I Know He's a King Ch. 01byJane Shield©
And I know he is a king, who deserves a queen.
But I am not a queen.
And he doesn't see me...*
*English lyrics: Read / Ingebrigsten / Marazzi / Adams , Sarah Brightman's 'He doesn't see me'
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"THE KING IS DEAD! LONG LIVE THE KING!" shouted the exclaimer.
"Long live the king," the mass chanted.
My mother pinched my ear and made me chant with them. Long live the king.
What if my life will be as long as the king's life?
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He was only twelve when his father died. Fortunately he inherited the crown, instead of his dreadful stepmother. She was a wicked crow, full of mischief and sorrow. She had long tried to give the late king another son, so she could kill the prince and become the next king's mother, which was a very desirable position. This meant that the new king – Alexander – had a lot of half sisters, which their mother could conjure for the king's attentions.
I was supposed to be his best friend and best friends we were until suddenly Alexander – or Lex as I called him – rose to this high position. I never saw him again. He apologised to me the day before his coronation, but was he the one to blame? I didn't forgive him, and he doesn't know now that I do not blame him. I wish that I could see him but that will never happen. Nobody will let me, a peasant girl, close to the king.
Now ten years have passed. I am nineteen, going on twenty, and he is soon to be twenty three. How old we suddenly are. If I met him now, he wouldn't recognise me. Farming the land makes your skin brown and weather-beaten. Your fingers grow thick and hard. I envy the ladies that sometimes visit the castle – they travel right past my village – with their pale blue skins and their shiny glossy hair. Their fingers are long and thin with pretty nails in different colours, although I believe they will snap if you give them a handshake.
My father has long since tried to marry me off. Nobody wants me. I actually wonder why, I may not be the prettiest girl in my village but I beat most of the girls by miles when it comes to looks. I do have the prettiest hair in town – my only possession I worship and care for. Maybe it is my wits. I have never been afraid of saying what I think. I never talk much, but if there is something I see is wrong, I'm the first to say it.
Lex hated that about me. Whenever we were playing a game he wanted to try with me I always pointed out at least one problem with the game. Lex always wanted to follow the rules, and I always wanted to go the easy way around so in the end we often ended up fighting. The last time we fought he gave me a peck on the cheek as an apology. That was also the last time we met. I guess it wasn't just an apology for our quarrel, but also a goodbye kiss. I wish I had known much more then.
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There was going to be a war. The Wilijies – those beautiful creatures that lived in the land of Veriton – had been preparing for years, but we never believed they were going to strike for our country.
My brother was going to join the army – for a month now he had practised with me – almost beating the crap out of me, but I won anyway. The thought of becoming a soldier and rising in ranks seduced many young peasant men eager for wealth and fame. I thought them to be illusions; you didn't change once you possessed them. But Calem – my dear dear brother – didn't agree with me. He was going to be a soldier and be supreme on the field and maybe someday rescue the king in some hazardous scheme hatched by the enemy.
"You could come with me and become one of the wenches for the soldiers. I hear all of them will be tried out by the king first. You can finally get to meet your precious Lexxy," he taunted me.
"Be quiet, you tadpole!" I cried and knocked him down.
I knew that Lex wasn't that way. I was sure he didn't even allow prostitutes to come with the army. I still hoped that there were some good in this world left, and that Lex was trying to uphold it. But my father got an idea from what Calem said.
The next day Calem, father and I went to the city. Calem got recruited immediately – no problem. But my father was up to something. As soon as Calem was enlisted my father went over to one of the officers and whispered something in his ear. I was sitting on the wagon, anxious to get home now that Calem the bully was gone. It really nagged me the way my father could drag out the waiting for me like that. Suddenly I saw my father pointing at me and the officer looked my way.
I wanted him to stop looking at me. But though he looked at me the way that I had only seen some of the village boys looking at me I sternly looked back. He was never to know that I was afraid. The man nodded to my father and gave him a pouch of coins.
..".Tis a surprise" I heard my father say.
The officer nodded again and gave me a wry smile. Then I and my father went home.
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The days following that event my father was unusually happy. He whistled in the morning and whenever I was around he said some strange things. He said happily: "I have given up searching a husband for you. I'm sure things will come around."
I tried pondering that out, but I couldn't get it together. I told myself not to worry about it. But it stuck in the back of my head. Whatever he was up to, there wouldn't come any good out of it.
And I was right. A week after our trip to the village the army set out for the outskirts of our country where the battle was to be. They were coming to pass our village. The day before my mother warmed water and sent the whole family to bath. This was a real surprise, because it wasn't Saturday.
The whole village stopped working to see the army pass by. When half of it had passed my mother took me into the house and sat me down by the table.
"I have tried talking him out of it. But he said that he would sell the rest of our daughters if I helped you escape... I am sorry, Amram. But I can give you some things that will make it easier for you..."
I could see that she cried. Her eyes were red and swollen and I didn't like the things she was saying. She took out her pouch with herbs, the one she brought out when someone in the village was ill and she helped, and took out a few smaller bags.
"This will prevent you from carrying a child," she said about the first one. "This will abort the child you're bearing if so will happen. This will loosen the pain and this you can blend with water and smear it over your body so that... so that whoever you are with will fall asleep when he... if he..."
I suddenly understood. The smile the officer had given me. My father's unusual happiness. It all came to light. My father had sold me to the army. I was to become a wench just as Calem had suggested. I felt sick to my bones and was ready to throw up if it hadn't been for my mother sitting in front of me.
"It's alright, mom. Thank you..."
"I have sowed you a new dress; you can hide the herbs near the hem. I will bring it. Wait a minute."
She brought the dress and I put it on. She helped me with the bags of dangerous herbs and then kissed me on the cheek. She led me out of our little house and I could see my father standing with the same officer that my father had sold me to. I wished that the world would end there. I wished for a lightning bolt to strike either me or my father. I hated myself for being a woman. I hated the world for being the way it is. I hated Lex for not forbidding prostitution.
There was one last thing my mother had given me before leading me out to the waiting officer; a knife. She hid it also in my hem, saying that I should be careful of using it. "It may be your last escape. Keep it hidden, or they will take it away from you."
I now knew what I would use it for. There would be nobody feeling along the soft skin between my legs, nobody nipping at my ear or the skin at the base of my neck. I would never feel the joy of being loved the way I loved the king Alexander. Screw Alexander – there was no wonderful Lex, I now knew.
My fate was set for the night.